Single parent-families may find they can sometimes become active by default, but the wrong kind of active. The active that is rushing around from A to B, trying to not chase one’s tail while grabbing a few precious moments along the way.  Sometimes we need to pause, remember our children only live their childhoods once, and just be.

I have been thinking about what I desire for my family in terms of being active.  As single parents, we have the gift of being able to independently choose the ways we wish to be active and how we wish to influence our child/children.

Today I make a committent to being a balanced, active and mindful family by:

Being mindful and making consistent choices

I can do this by:

  1. Being more careful about what I can recycle and what I throw in the general rubbish
  2. Taking more note of times when I am distracted and wasting time e.g. on mornings when we need to get out the door for work and school, remembering that I can serve my daughter better by staying focused – being present for her, and sending her off to school in a calm loving way (not rushed and stressed)
  3. Instead of random donations, giving more regularly to causes and charities that are in line with what I am passionate about, and use this opportunity to teach my daughter this value
  4. Taking more consistent care of my green garden herbs and vegetables and setting up a bigger gardening space so my daughter and I can pick more fresh herbs and veges for our meals
  5. Supporting local and independently-owned small businesses more
  6. Giving outgrown clothes to second hand shops that support wider community causes or seeing if friends want to swap
  7. Scheduling time to read my monthly magazine subscription (purchased FREE with points given by our electricity provider) – this is packed full of great ideas for living a more mindful life.

 Being more active by getting more exercise and outdoors time

I can do this by:

  1. Riding my exercycle at night
  2. Walking to and from school on my days off, to collect my daughter
  3. Walking in my lunchbreak on fine days
  4. Finally getting my bike fixed and serviced, so I can do bike rides with my daughter
  5. Utlising great community walks or just making the choice to spend more time outdoors
  6. Looking through community papers and getting out and about more on our weekends together – there are great events put on by our local council and other organisations in the community.

There is also a fantastic facility set up by the Ministry of Health to encourage families to get more active and healthy together. There is certain criteria to meet – for more information ring 0800 ACTIVE (0800 22 84 83) or visit this site to find a rep for active families in your area.

Being more aware of the need to slow down

I think as parents this is probably one of the most important of all. We get so carried away in all the activities that we have to stuff into our lives in order to ensure everything gets done. But what happens if the dishes aren’t done tonight?  How about trying not to excuse  your dishes to visitors when they arrive, because do they really care, and does it matter if they do? If you don’t take another trip in to town today and leave it for another day when you can do a whole list of things at once – will putting it off be detrimental to your wellbeing?  Wait for that ingredient you need, and see what you can make do with what you have – some of my best dishes have come from forcing myself to just create.  Pull out all your clothes and see what new outfit you can pull together from items in your wardrobe – and make your child feel important at the same time by asking if they would be your stylist and assist you (my daughter loves contributing to what I wear) .

Be aware of slowing down your movements, and take time to ask the question: are we missing the point here?

GOOD magazine recently ran a feature called “Savouring the delights of slow midwinter”.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and took a lot from this advice:

What if, seizing the day doesn’t mean cramming it so full that it starts coming apart at the corners? Could it be that satisfaction is to be found in smaller, humbler places?

The article goes on to challenge the notion: if you are not busy, you are not reaching your potential and you are letting life slip through your fingers.  Instead, slowing down our values and deepening your knowledge can be very fulfilling. It give us ideas for slow starters, like:

  1. Furnishing your home with a comfy reading corner or finding a café or park to read a book. I picked up a great book recently from a neat little corner gift shop in Hamilton. The book is called “Bazaar Style” by Selina Lake, Ryland Peters & Small – which is packed full of neat ideas for decorating with market and vintage finds (there are so many slow life opportunities in doing this too, which is part of what I loved about it)
  2. Pack up a rug, a thermos of hot chocolate and head somewhere you can sit and star gaze or watch the clouds roll on by
  3. Create a routine involving a weekend breakfast (we  do cooked breakfasts on Sundays, but I must make more effort to get my daughter involved routinely) – Check out  www.simplybreakfast.blogspot.com for inspiration, or pull out some of your parents’ or grandparents’ old recipes and work through those – handing on a piece of history to your kids at the same time
  4. Take up a hobby you have always wanted to try (we get very creative with painting and scrapbooking, this definitely tunes you in to a slower way of life and helps you connect with others).

In September, we are going along to a workshop on building a worm farm, put on by our local council. This is something I have wanted to do for some time now.  It’s only about $35 and that includes getting a worm farm to take home with you! There are great ideas, tips and activities out there that enables you to make mindful choices, be kind to your environment, and spending quality time with family simultaneously – all without needing the budget of a two income family!

Get active this winter, with your family, in whatever way feels in line with who you are, what feels nurturing and leaves that peaceful feeling in your heart… and you can’t go wrong!

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Michelle Woolley is a qualified nanny, has worked in hospitality, accounts and advertising, and is now studying Bachelor of Social Work full-time, working part-time as a support worker for people with disabilities. In her teens, she volunteered at kids' camps and listened to real life stories, dried the tears of many young girls struggling with living in a broken family. She didn’t realise that one day she would be drying the tears of her own child while parenting alone. Join her as she writes about her journey.

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